Tuesday, 25 March, 2008

Deve Gowda may emerge king-maker

B D Narayankar

KARNATAKA: Political pundits believe that the Karnataka Assembly polls will yet again throw up a fractured verdict given the entry of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) in the fray.

Psephologists contend that both parties lacked the potential of making inroads into Karnataka politics, but acknowledge that they would play the spoilsport by eating into the votes of national parties like BJP and Congress.

Will they not affect JDS’ prospects? Well, it all depends on SP leader S Bangarappa triumph in striking an alliance with JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda. However, Gowda has not responded to Bangarappa’s statement of a pre-poll alliance with JDS given the latter’s track record of founding new parties and merging with another and demerging when the association seized to lay golden eggs. Also no formal talks had been held as yet between the two parties in this regard.

However, the BJP, the Congress and JDS have sewed up different strategies to fight the battle. BJP is confident of winning the polls on exploiting the ‘betrayal card’ to the hilt.

A reluctant Congress, which is hit by internecine fighting, has decided to use the stability card, raising an ante against JDS-BJP coalition governance. S M Krishna is hardly suited to accept the political gauntlet. His chances of regaining lost ground in north Karnataka, the support of which is vital for any party wanting to come to power in Karnataka, are not very bright at all.
Krishna’s record of having let down north Karnataka badly during his tenure of the Chief Minister still remains etched firmly in the people’s memory in the region. Krishna reneged on his promise to implement the D.M. Nanjundappa committee report on the removal of regional imbalance; he came in the way of the early completion of Upper Tunga scheme which was vital for Northern Karnataka; and he dragged his feet on the question of taking up Kalasa Banduri naala designed as a project to meet the drinking water needs of North Karnataka.

Wily Deve Gowda is pretty confident that the election will throw up a fractured verdict. In the 224-member assembly neither the BJP nor the Congress can cross the 113-seat mark to form a government on their own. In the circumstances, the third most successful party at the elections will play a crucial role in government formation. Thus, Gowda hopes that even if he does not emerge the king he will be force himself into the position of king-maker.

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